Doug Mastriano, the Pennsylvania Republican nominee for governor, is doubling down on a comparison he made four years ago likening gun control in the United States to policies pursued in Nazi Germany before the Holocaust.
Mastriano on Wednesday shared a video – posted on YouTube the previous day by the news organization The Forward – of a 2018 debate during his unsuccessful run for Congress that year.
“It’s appalling to me any time there’s a shooting, the left will jump on that as a way to advance an agenda to remove our right to bear arms. … What other right will they suspend?” Mastriano says in the video.
“We saw Lenin do the same thing in Russia. We saw Hitler do the same thing in Germany in the ’30s. Where does it stop? Where do the tyrants stop infringing upon our rights?”
Mastriano shared the video on Twitter the day after The Forward published an article that resurfaced his 2018 remarks. After a reporter posted an excerpt of the video, including the comparison to Hitler, Mastriano responded: “Historically, this is accurate.”
In response to Mastriano’s post, the Pennsylvania chapter of the Gun Owners of America wrote: “Spot on. There isn’t a better time than now to warn people of the dangers that lie ahead when gun control is forced down our throats in the name of ‘safety.’”
Mastriano retweeted the response.
Mastriano’s resurfaced remarks come as Congress and state legislatures consider a legislative response to the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last week that left 19 children and two adults dead.
Mastriano, a state senator and retired Army colonel, is running against Democrat Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general.
Mastriano’s invoking of Hitler is a reference to the Nazis’ confiscation of firearms and other weapons from Jewish people in the late 1930s. At the time, Germany loosened gun regulations for most citizens.
When Republican Ben Carson made similar remarks during his 2016 presidential campaign, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, a national Jewish group, said, “The notion that Hitler’s gun-control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate.”
“In short, gun control did not cause the Holocaust; Nazism and anti-Semitism did,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the group’s executive director.
Mastriano is campaigning on establishing Pennsylvania as a “Second Amendment sanctuary” exempt from federal gun laws. In the aftermath of the Uvalde massacre, he called for increased funding for guidance counselors in schools, training for teachers and staff “to help them identify potential warning signs,” arming teachers with firearms, and equipping schools with metal detectors.
Shapiro says he wants to put mental health counselors in every school, expand student access to tele-mental health, crack down on untraceable “ghost guns,” enact universal background checks, and pass stronger “red flag” laws that enable authorities to temporarily confiscate firearms from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others.
“Every Pennsylvanian deserves to feel safe at home, at school, and in their community – and I know we can achieve that while upholding Pennsylvanians’ rights and traditions,” he said after the shooting.
Mastriano, who is Christian, has faced criticism from Jewish groups over what they call the appropriation of Jewish symbols at his campaign rallies.
Shapiro has emphasized the importance of his Jewish faith. In a TV ad, Shapiro says that despite his busy schedule, “I make it home Friday night for Sabbath dinner, because family and faith ground me.”